Spring Cleaning in March 2014



March begins the first hint of Spring and this year we need it more than ever. Cabin fever has set in for many of us and the thought of going outside for a walk and to enjoy nature is heavenly.
With Spring, comes the urge to clean out the wintery cobwebs and create a fresh start. This may mean physically cleaning your house and surroundings, organizing a closet or two or cleaning up the diet in time for bathing suit season.


Whatever the cleaning urge, it is important to not stress about change.

Fun ways to clean house:
- Purging closets and clutter can be just as therapeutic for the house as it is for the mind. Physical clutter tends to make us more stressed. Giving clothes you no longer wear away to charity or a consignment store is one simple way to purge.

- Don't get overwhelmed by the mess, tackle one room at a time and celebrate with a treat or pat on the back at the end of each task. I like to make a "to-do" list which gives me huge satisfaction when I cross items off.

- Cleaning up your health routine: if you have fallen into bad food habits over the winter, now is the time to pick up your socks. Cut back on that addictive refined sugar, increase your glasses of water per day by 1, drink herbal teas in the morning instead of coffee. Small changes make a huge impact.

- We've all been a little too sedentary in the past months, lets clean up the body by making sure we are sweating 2-3 times a week. Your waistline, cardiovascular system and loved ones will thank you!

And most of all, enjoy the sunshine! I know its still cold but the warm weather is coming, I promise!

In health,

Dr. L

Fighting February Frustrations

Hello Friends,

Typically newletters that go out in February have a theme of LOVE. The celebration of love, the joy of relationships and defining what love means to us. Not this one!

Instead, I have noticed that this month has been extremely frustrating for many of my patients, friends, colleagues and even myself.

Those frustrations seem to stem from the weather (seriously enough snow already), our inability to get outside and enjoy nature, feeling overwhelmed with busy-ness and perhaps a lack of connection with those people in our lives we SHOULD feel love towards.

We struggle on a daily basis to maintain some sort of control. This forced control leads to a sense of urgency and frustration. We lose ourselves in the many tasks that need to get done or the pressure we put on ourselves to keep it all together. The trick is to realize that NO ONE has it all together, do not compare yourself to those acquaintances you knew in high school on Facebook!

Like an animal caught in a trap, the more we struggle, the more pain we are in. Letting go can be the best course of action. Taking off the insane expectations we have of ourselves. Trusting that we are doing amazing things, just by being ourselves and to detach from the things that are frustrating us! The tight grip we hold on life, can be the exact reason why things aren't falling into place. The second we relinquish the need to control every situation, we allow MIRACLES to happen.

Simple techniques that break the struggle cycle:

1. Mindfulness - choosing to set an intention every day (even just as your driving to work).

2. Gratefulness - showing gratitude for the good in your life (there is always something)

3. Being present - we are so distracted by being connected through technology that we aren't focused on what's right in front of us. Turn off the darn cell phone

4. Breathe - Deep cleansing breaths really do slow your heart rate and bring down the stress hormone Cortisol

5. Meditation - recent articles have shown that meditation (even guided from YouTube) reduces the need for anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.

I'll leave you with this quote:

“The wise know that too much doing and a thing won’t get done. The secret to manifesting on the highest level is to find the perfect amount of doing and non-doing to allow the doing to be done. Sometimes much more can be accomplished simply by letting go and trusting.” – Jackson Kiddard

In Health,

Dr. L

Jump Start the New Year!







Happy New Year!



 
January typically marks the beginning of a new outlook on life. New Year's resolutions, making goals and vowing to change something about life in the next coming year.

That sounds like a lot of PRESSURE!

How about this year, we allow ourselves to keep it simple. Simplicity is the theme for my life and my practice and as such I want to send these thoughts to you!


Lesley's 2014 SIMPLE DETOX:
If you are like me and overindulged during the holidays, you would like to get back on track.
Its as easy as doing 3 things:

1. Drink at least 2L of water per day
2. Cut out sugar from the diet (refined, not fruit).
3. Watch your portions. Veggies on half the plate, carbohydrates on 1/4 and protein on 1/4.

 
 If you really want to change your life this year, it doesn't have to be a huge undertaking.
My advice to keep things simple and still instigate change would be to stop the PESSIMISM!
Positive self talk, happy thoughts and an upbeat attitude to the year can go a long way in attracting the people and situations that you want.
 
"What you put out there, you get back"

Lets treat this month as a celebration of renewed spirit, not a month of breaking resolutions!


If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email or book an appointment.


In Health,


Dr. Lesley

Happy Holidays and Christmas Cheer 2013

As 2013 comes to a close and we are in the midst of celebrations, I wanted to take the opportunity to say Thank you!

I have been fortunate to survive and thrive in my first full year of practice, all due to the amazing people, patients and colleagues that surround me.
Couldn't have done it without you and looking forward to an even more spectacular 2014!

Now onto the useful stuff...


December Tips:

1. When shoveling snow, bend at the knees and lift with your legs. This prevents the all too common "low back strain" and saves you an abundance of holiday pain.

2. When indulging in the Christmas feast - eat slowly and until you're ALMOST  full, not completely full. This prevents that bloated, uncomfortable feeling after dinner. If you are feeling bloated after every meal regardless, digestive enzymes can be your best friend!

3. Sweets are in abundance, that doesn't mean you need to snack on just sugar though. Incorporate fruits and veggies as often as you can so you maintain your nutritional requirements.

4. Exercise doesn't have to wait until the January resolutions are made. Go for a walk after dinner to keep the workout momentum going!

5. Take this time to RELAX! Work can wait, stress can wait and you deserve a bit of a break.

6. Although the craziness of the holidays can get to you, try to maintain sanity with 15 minutes of alone time each day. Think, meditate or simply breathe!

And most of all, be safe, have fun and stay healthy

All the best,
Dr. L

Knowing the signs of STRESS in November

Stress can manifest in several different ways. We may not even know it is happening, we may feel completely normal.
So what are common ways we know that stress is impacting our lives?



1. Sleep Problems - Waking up at night or unable to fall asleep easily. Waking up unrefreshed
2. Digestive Problems - Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea can all be signs of a high stress lifestyle
3. Headaches/Pain - tension headaches that start at the base of the skull and move up around to the forehead = Stress.
4. Emotions - quick to anger, cry, lose your temper or laugh at inappropriate times can be a sign that you are stressed out
5. Fatigue - needing to nap mid day or feeling very fatigued even after a good night's sleep.
6. Poor performance at work - The inability to stay on task or focus, lack of efficiency
7. Poor memory - stress can cause us to become forgetful and lose track of items
8. Regular colds and flus - getting sick and decreased immune system happens when our lifestyle is very stressful for a long period of time.


How do we overcome stressors?
Managing stress is very individualized and something I talk to my patients about on a regular basis.


Techniques that I have used on myself and with patients include:
- Deep breathing - just 5 minutes a day will help to reduce your cortisol levels (stress hormone)
- Do something every day that brings you joy. If you don't remember what that is, start by making a list.
- Eat healthy, nutrient dense meals. A nutrient deficiency can add stress on the body
- Surround yourself with an amazing support network. We all need to vent and we need people in our lives that are understanding and supportive.
- Boost your immune system with fruits and veggies and supplements (consult your health care provider).
- Meditation - guided meditations (Youtube, classes) can help to ground and release any stress that has been pent up that day.

- Exercise - 20 minutes a day! That's it

As we go into the holiday season, many of us feel the stress that this brings. November is the time to start implementing stress reduction techniques to prevent a build up of stress and instead, enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

Yours in health,
Dr. J

Patience is a Virtue!

I've decided to interject a few life lesson type posts as well as my typical scandal. Here is the first topic! 
 
PATIENCE: 

I've come across many folks who are looking for a quick fix to their problems. A pain killer for that headache, winning the lottery to pay off their debt, an oil change in 10 minutes or less!
This mentality is expected with the speed to which our society runs. The

faster and more efficient machine is always the best, right?

But what if we stopped. Just for today. 

We took our time getting to work, we stopped at the grocery store and browsed the aisles and we waited patiently for the next available representative on the phone.

Having the patience to make significant changes in your life, take care of your health with a sense of slow consistency and love thy neighbours are actually the cornerstone to a happier life. 



Wouldn't we all want that?

My end of October words of wisdom is this:
A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.
- George Savile

Ramblings from a Woman Entrepreneur

I have been wracking my brain for a month, trying to decide on a kick ass blog post topic and realizing that my creative juices have completely dried up. So before I miss out on posting in April, I've decided to ramble.

I'm a new business woman and with it comes new responsibilities and learning as I go. This has been both wonderful and challenging. I am constantly facing with new "issues" that never would have occurred to me to look into in the past.

The Good: I'm cultivating some really amazing relationships with patients, colleagues and friends. I seem to be making a difference, even if miniscule and I come home most nights feeling like 'I've done good.'

The Bad: I have had people whom I thought were friends, treat me poorly, I have been disrespected, frowned upon, lied about, felt pressure to do something I didn't want to do and told that I shouldn't be in a business if I can't handle it. I've listened to all the comments, initially felt crappy about it/myself/my profession, mulled it over with friends while drinking quite significant amounts of wine and ultimately come to ONE conclusion.

I AM MEANT TO DO THIS! 


After all the crap gets piled on, there's one thing that I keep asking myself:

What am I here on this planet to do, that no one else can do?

This is tough to answer and the answer is a work in progress, but what I've come up with is this.
I have a wonderful ability to connect with everyone in my life on a deeper level than most. I'm striving for that connection that runs the test of time and doesn't revolve around material things. I want to really know what makes people tick and what inspires them to be the best possible person they can. Once I have cultivate this relationship, we become friends on this 'ship of life' that sometimes has its rocky, scary, capsizable moments and sometimes has its calm seas, smooth sailing moments but we always know that no matter what, we have someone on the ship we can count on to help us with our life preserver. I love this!
Yes maybe there is someone out there that strives for this connection as I do, but guaranteed they don't do it the same way I do.

So there...to all the Nay-sayers - Bite me! lol (I mean that in the nicest possible way)
I'm doing the best I can with what I have at this precise moment.  I love my patients, my friends, my family and myself. I couldn't have picked a better profession to teach me how to be a STELLAR human being. And ultimately it comes down to one thing:

MY LIFE IS AWESOME!!!

Closing thoughts:
1. Are you doing what you are passionate about and what you truly shine at doing?
2. Are you listening to the nay-sayers and Debbie Downers?
3. Don't be afraid to be yourself and stand up for what you believe in. Its amazing how significantly we can change the world just by loving our own individual lives.

Lovingly,
Dr. J!


How much did I drink last night ? HANGOVERS!!




Since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and the only proper way to celebrate such a day is to drink our faces off and behave badly, I thought it was only fitting to discuss the finer points of the dreaded Hangover!

We've all been there, one too many chardonnays or shots of cheap tequila and we're passed out on our bed or someone else's, without taking the proper steps (ie. drinking a glass of water) to avoid feeling quite ill the next day.

What exactly is a hangover?...I'm glad you asked.
Hangovers occur after a night of alcohol indulgence. The severity of the hangover usually correlates to the amount of alcohol consumed, the different types of alcohol and the amount of sleep. The impurities and preservatives in the drinks can also lead to hangovers even after one beverage.

According to the Mayo Clinic:
  • Alcohol causes your body to produce more urine. In turn, urinating more than usual can lead to dehydration — often characterized by thirst, dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Alcohol triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system. In particular, your immune system may trigger certain agents that commonly produce certain symptoms, such as an inability to concentrate, memory problems, decreased appetite and loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach. It increases the production of stomach acid and delays stomach emptying. Any of these factors can cause abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.
  • Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to fall. If your blood sugar dips too low, you may experience fatigue, weakness, shakiness and mood disturbances, even seizures.
  • Alcohol causes your blood vessels to expand, which can lead to headaches.
  • Alcohol can make you sleepy, but your quality of sleep will decrease. This may leave you groggy and fatigued.
  • Alcoholic beverages contain ingredients called congeners, which give many types of alcoholic beverages their flavor and which can contribute to hangovers. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy and whiskey, than in clear liquors, such as vodka and gin.
How to avoid a hangover:
Between alcoholic beverages, drink water.
Eat food.
Get plenty of sleep.
Don't drink to excess.

Ok but we all know there will be those occasions that one too many drinks are consumed and you wake up the next morning with the onset of a hangover. What you might experience:


Headache or Migraine - mostly due to dehydration
Nausea and Vomiting
Dizziness/Lightheadedness
Depression and Anxiety
Fatigue
Thirst
Muscle aches
Sensitivity to light and sound
Rapid heart beat
Decreased ability to concentrate

That sounds like so much fun doesn't it! If you're lucky enough to wake up and feel like this, there are a few steps you can take to start the road to recovery.

 1. If you can stand it - go for a walk or exercise. I know it feels like that last thing you want to do but wouldn't you rather have the toxins moving out of the body via sweat and urine than pooling in your blood while you lay in bed.
2. If you can't fathom getting out of bed, or the nausea is that severe, try sleeping. Sleeping will speed up the recovery.
3. Eat something - putting nutrients back into your body is crucial.
4. Sip water throughout the day. You are severely dehydrated, that alcohol made you pee several times last night, you sweated your butt off on the dance floor and you likely threw up at some point. You need fluids.

Ultimately a hangover has to run its course. It won't be fun, but you should feel better by the end of the day.

Warning: 
AVOID TYLENOL - the combination of alcohol and acetaminophen is a recipe for a toxic liver.
AVOID MORE ALCOHOL - the "hair of the dog" is a myth, more booze will only prolong the hangover.

There are 20-30% of people who don't get hangovers even after a big night of partying. To those people I say - Eff you! lol

Naturopathic Advice for hangovers: 
Homeopathic remedy = Nux vomica 30C - a couple pellets under the tongue, taken the night before and in the morning, especially if you're a puker.
B vitamins - especially B1 (Thiamin) - will help your liver detox a bit faster and prevent a buildup of glutarate in the brain leading to headaches.
Sodium bicarb or baking soda in water will help with the nausea
If you're going to drink - do a vodka, water, bar-lime combo - it has the water and electrolytes you need to prevent a terrible hangover the next day.

And finally, I'm not such a square that I will tell you not to drink, you are all adults (hopefully) and you know your limits. I just ask that you are responsible for your decisions and actions, don't drink alone (cause its just sad) and don't pick fights or call your ex.

I wish you all a speedy recovery.

Oh and DON'T BE AND IDIOT, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE....obviously.
Happy St. Patty's!



I'm Back....to talk about STI's !!!

After a long hiatus (about 5 months), I've decided to rekindle my love affair with blogging. I just started a new Naturopathic practice and it has taken up the majority of my time and energy.
However, this is no excuse. So let me be the first to offer my humblest of apologies for not blogging regularly.
I have also decided to use my real name, its Lesley, hey nice to meet you...and be proud of my blog, promoting it on Facebook and other such online venues.
If you have the good old fb - you can like my professional page - Lesley Johnston, Naturopathic Doctor and Bowen Therapist! Lots of great health tips, recipes and mindfulness based exercises. 

Ok back to the good stuff....

Kids, today's topic is SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES!!  ewwww

What's more fun to talk about than Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes and AIDS?...absolutely nothing!
I just heard a new statistic that the incidence of Chlamydia in the US is on the rise. Really? Have we learned nothing about the practices of safe sex and protecting ourselves and each other since 1907? 

A little history lesson - 

SYPHILIS
The best known sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis, is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Syphilis was first widely reported by European writers in the 16th century, and some medical historians assume that it was imported into Europe by explorers returning from the New World. Other authorities believe that syphilis is of ancient origin and may at one time have been mistakenly identified as leprosy. At any rate, syphilis first became widely recognized and reported about the year 1500, when a virtual epidemic swept Europe. 

Signs and Symptoms:
There are 4 stages to syphilis - Primary, Secondary, Latent and Tertiary
Primary = painless, firm, non itchy ulceration or chancre on the sexual organ
Secondary = diffuse rash seen on palms of hands and soles of feet
Latent period = no symptoms
Tertiary = gummas (bigger, grosser ulceration), cardiac and neurological symptoms

GONORRHEA
Previously known as the "clap", its not just fun to say, its also a highly contagious sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Signs and Symptoms:
Men - burning with urination and a discharge from the penis (grey/green)
Women - usually asymptomatic or they will also experience a lovely discharge and pelvic pain
If left untreated, it can also spread to other areas of the body including the heart valves.

CHLAMYDIA
As students, we remembered Chlamydia with a little rhyme - Can't see, Can't pee, Can't dance with me. Sounds weird right? Chlamydia is a fun sexually transmitted disease that can also cause urinary problems, blindness and arthritis....yay! It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is passed from partner to partner as well as from infected mom to baby in the birth canal.

Signs and Symptoms: 
Women - 50-70% asymptomatic but ladies can also experience pelvic inflammation, painful urination, pain on intercourse and fever. It can also go undetected for months to years...GET YOURSELF CHECKED!
Men - a painful or burning sensation when urinating, an unusual discharge from the penis, swollen or tender testicles or fever. The discharge is lighter in colour than gonorrhea.

HERPES SIMPLEX 2 - It takes 2 to Tango!Just like the Herpes virus that causes cold sores on your lips, there is another Herpes virus (Type 2) that causes genital herpes. The herpes virus will cycle between periods of inactivity and activity where the person will experience symptoms and can transmit to others. The asymptomatic stage can still spread to other people due to viral shedding. Therefore, always better to use caution whether you're experiencing symptoms or not.

Signs and Symptoms:
Genital herpes - infection of the skin and mucus membranes, looks like small red bumps, possibly light on top. (They look like a cold sore on your private parts). They can be sore and itchy.
If at all curious - wikipedia has some great pictures! 

HIV/AIDS -
aka Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the early twentieth century. AIDS was first recognized by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981 and its cause—HIV infection—was identified in the early part of the decade. Since its discovery, AIDS has caused nearly 30 million deaths (as of 2009). As of 2010, approximately 34 million people have contracted HIV globally. AIDS is considered a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading (pandemic).
Signs and Symptoms:
The initial infection feels kinda like the flu, then there is a latent period of no symptoms. The virus hammers away at the person's immune system and depletes the cells that protect you from pathogens. This makes the person more susceptible to other infections, colds, flus and even tumors.

How diseases are spread: These are sexually transmitted infections - soooo they are spread sexually! Genital to genital, mouth to genital, mouth to mouth (if the infection is already on the mouth) etc.Some are also spread through the birth canal from mom to baby. HIV is also spread through blood transfusions, needle stick injuries and breastfeeding.

How to protect yourself and prevent disease: 
Don't have sex....ok kidding. Practice safe sex with someone who you are familiar with and aware of their health history. This doesn't mean grilling your "one night stand" for their lab results but having an open and honest discussion wouldn't be a bad idea....And maybe check out the goods, if you know what you're looking for, its easy to spot. A full physical exam isn't always the sexiest thing but a quick peak may help.

Treatments for STI's consists of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed from your MD. Your Naturopath can also help with adjunct treatments to help boost the immune system, protect from other outside pathogens and keep morale up. 
If in doubt, book an appointment for a physical exam and blood test with you GP and get checked out.


**Notice there are no pictures in this post, I did that for your own protection. Keepin it PG! 

Dating 101

OK .... so the thing is, to you I may be this cool, funny Naturopath who seems to have it all figured out but let me let you in on a tiny secret. I'm SINGLE. Yes the previous posts about relationship advice were written by someone who is NOT in a relationship. Are you rolling your eyes and thinking, "well who the heck does this chick think she is?" Don't worry, I would have the same reaction...but just keep reading!

Life is what you make of it, right? We've all heard this expression. 
Same goes for dating.

I am at an age where most of my friends have significant others, partners, husbands, wives and multiple children. If my ego was to rule my life, I would be in a corner, rocking back and forth, feeling sorry for myself and asking 'whats wrong with me?' But happily, this isn't the case. I see my friends and loved ones successful in their relationships and that makes me even more hopeful that I will find someone that is a good match for me. 


Dating:
In the search for this partner, I have taken it upon myself to join a dating website (not the free one which in theory should weed out a few of the player-types right away). I know that dating online is a shot in the dark but then again so is meeting people in a crowded club. The online world is an entity all of its own. you have to be smart with it. Not only does that mean not to give out your credit card info to the nice guy with a great smile but also to remain aware that if you're talking to multiple people, so is the really cute guy you just gave your number to. Speaking of numbers, there are the people that treat online dating like a numbers game, don't fall into this trap because its quite easy to do.
My experience thus far has consisted of finding men who are great on paper but lack the chemistry in person, meeting guys that can't seem to function outside cyber-worlds and meeting men of my dreams and having them run screaming from me! Its been an adventure to say the least.
Despite not having found my Mister Right, I have had a ton of fun, heard some pretty amazing life  stories and even made a couple of friends.

Single and sassy and out on the town:
1. Make a bucket list and start checking off the things you've always wanted to do.
2. Join a new club, hobby team to get out and just meet people.
3. Hang out with friends who you find know you the best and put a bug in their ear that you would be willing to be set up with someone
4.  This may sound corny but visualize having that significant other. How does he/she make you feel?


I've let you in on this part of my life to tempt you to see the bright side of the story. As a single woman in her early 30's, some people assume I'm plagued with loneliness because I'm not married with children. However, I have never been more happy, fulfilled and ecstatic about my future as I am at this moment. I'm really looking forward to the time when the right guy comes along but until then, I'm finding out what makes me  tick. I've started new hobbies (art, cooking, singing and volleyball), I make spur of the moment decisions to visit friends in another city, I'm traveling, and I'm making sure that I'm challenged body, mind and soul.

The single life is not a time to wallow in self pity, its a time to be free, uninhibited, adventurous and love yourself unconditionally. By the time your true life partner comes around, you can continue being this new creative and awesome person because you've attracted in someone who loves those qualities in you.

Moral of this story - be you, be crazy, let your freak flag fly, find out who you are and embrace the joys of being the sexy single men and women you are!

Love and Happiness

     No matter where you are in the world or what language you speak there seems to be a common goal of finding a partner, lover, or friend with whom to carry on your days with.

     That being said, one of the biggest source of sadness, anxiety and stress concerns relationship woes. "Does she like me", "why won't he propose", "will he still love me if I...", "why can't I just move on".
There is no 'How to' handbook to tell us how to succeed in relationships, although many authors have attempted. There is no tried and true formula for finding love either. (Do this, don't do that and you're guaranteed to find love in 5-7 weeks.)
As an naturopathic doctor, a big part of our practice is listening and counseling through the uncomfortable parts of life, the unknown . I don't pretend to be a relationship expert or a psychotherapist but I do my best to be present and don't shy away from the challenging issues. And of course, confidentiality is present within any medical and naturopathic profession.
 
Questions I've tackled recently....
1. How come I can't find the one?
2. How do I get over a break up?
3. Should I leave him/her?
4. Will I always be single?
5. Is it normal that I feel this way?

    Unfortunately I do not have a crystal ball to tell the future but I do know that there are ways to make waiting on "the one" or saying goodbye to a relationship more bearable. To do this we must increase HAPPINESS.

     Seems simple enough right..happiness is little puppies with ribbons, chocolate ice cream and twirling in a poofy skirt....uh ya maybe in Disney movies. When I have asked patients what truly makes them "ridiculously, over the moon, huge grin on their face, tingling in the toes" kind of happy, I'm usually met with a blank stare. We have become so wrapped up in the daily grind that we've forgotten what it means to feel the pure, unadulterated sense of joy. There is absolutely no way we could expect a new love or partner to make us happy when we have no clue how to be happy with ourselves.

So first things first.....
- make a list of 5 things (thats all) that make you happy. I'm talking that 'high on life' happiness!
- circle 2 of the 5 things
- create a place in your life to implement more of those 2 things

Then
- Take time to yourself to figure out who you are, knowing yourself and knowing what makes you tick will provide an easier route to finding out what makes you the happiest.
- Love your work. If you're in a job that neither fulfills nor satisfies you, change something! Whether you apply for a new position in the same company, strike out on your own or start a book club in the office, just change something!
- Don't make decisions based on fear. We're all scared of something and that fear can dictate how we respond to our own life and the ability to be happy. Conquering a fear and overcoming procrastination can increase happiness in seconds.
- Smile! Trick your brain to think that you are happy (even if you aren't really feeling it). The brain doesn't know the difference between a fake smile and a real one. The same feel good dopamine hormones are produced by both.
- Keep track of what you're grateful for. Many of us focus on what we need to do, what we need to get, what bothers us and what stresses us out but rarely do we stop and take stock of everything we have. Look around you - there is someone in this world that would kill for what you already have in life.

So what exactly do I mean by all this happiness talk? 

Studies have shown that happy people are contagious and as a result attract happy people to them. They also exude more confidence and therefore seem more beautiful to others.
Wouldn't it be nice to find a partner who is as loving, caring, romantic and as happy as you've always dreamt? Of course it would, but it starts with being loving, caring, romantic and happy within yourself. Care for yourself, be kind to yourself, take yourself out for a nice dinner and fall back in love with YOU! The rest, my dears, will fall into place. Promise!




He Said, She Said

     The battle of the sexes is one that has raged for centuries. Wars have been won and lost, books have been written, published and sold millions of copies, and marriages have been celebrated and mourned.
    Men and women don't always understand each other and sometimes seem to be speaking different languages (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus), however the old adage of communication being key still rings true.
    Communication between partners has become reduced to the number of characters you can fit into a text message or tweet, gone are the days of love sonnets and Shakespearean quotations.  Call me old fashioned but I prefer the full version of "I love you" to the text version - ILY.

 


   As a naturopathic doctor, we often counsel partners through miscommunication issues, whether together or individually. Sometimes a lack of communication occurs because work schedules do not coincide or kids, soccer practice, time with friends and other commitments leave little time for the relationship. Miscommunication can also occur if we misinterpret body language, don't say what we truly mean, are too subtle, or our actions contradict our words.  Check out this post - 5 tips when communicating with men

Communication tips:
- talk authentically and truthfully
- actively listen to your partner
- make eye contact
- say what you mean
- make sure your partner understands
- speak with love and compassion
- follow through with what you say you will do
-  everyone is entitled to an opinion, its neither wrong nor right, it just is
- don't keep score

If the problem lies with the fact that you seem to be on opposite schedules, there are small and easy ways to increase togetherness:
1. Date night - schedule a specific night each week that is dedicated to the two of you. Whether doing something you both love or going on a new adventure
2. Leaving notes for each other - uh No not "do the dishes" or "pick up the kids", more like "thanks for cleaning up last night, you're amazing" or "can't wait to see you"
3.  Making a list of your favourite things to do with your partner and implementing one item per week.
4. Focussing on the little qualities that you LOVE about your partner and reminding them often
5. Listening to your partner when they speak. Busy lives can mean half hearted conversations but this can quickly lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings, so practice your active listening skills as often as you can.
6. Laughter is the best medicine....share some laughs, inside jokes, keep conversations light and fun even when broaching into tough topic territory. 

Tough and tender topics tend to get pushed under the rug and buried deep inside, this, however, is a recipe for disaster. Issues that aren't dealt with right away (even though it may be uncomfortable) become larger and scarier the longer they are buried. Not only can tough issues fester in your mind but that added stress can also lead to physical ailments - panic attacks, stomach ulcers, headaches, chronic pain, or digestive problems.
I have many patients that come to me describing such symptoms and when we trace it back to the onset, we find an emotional root cause.

Keep in mind that relationships only work when BOTH people are willing to put in the effort. Communication is a two way street and even if you feel like you are communicating enough for both people, it still won't work. When all else fails, seek out an impartial third party who can help counsel through the serious problems and provide mediation when things get difficult. 








The Secret World of Attraction



           A friend and I were discussing attraction, she has recently decided she would like to try online dating and it seems that the amount of men out there is quite overwhelming. We made a verbal list of what we thought was attractive - taller than us (and we're 5'9 and 5'10), confident not cocky, well dressed yet comfortable and no weird facial tics.  I like the scruffy chin, she likes the clean shaven. But really, this is just the superficial gut reaction to men.  I wouldn't fall in love with the scruffy guy immediately but these quality certainly turn my head! A nice jaw line doesn't hurt either.

Which brings me to my next research topic - The Science of Attractiveness.

Every female and male has their own idea of what they gravitate towards, whether it be a guy in a pick up truck or a Lamborghini, a girl in a cute flower dress or string bikini! For the most part, attraction remains an unsolved mystery. No definitive method exists to calculate or predict who we should be attracted to - nor how we can be attractive to others.
However, according to scientific experts, there are some tried and true unconscious assessments we do the second we meet someone.

First, we look at: 
Face shape - Symmetry of the face and its features has been shown to be more attractive for both men and women. Dr. Schmidt from the University of Nebraska says that there is an exact measurement for facial attractiveness. "The ratio of the length of the face to the width of the face should be 1.6, also known as the golden ratio. The face should also be divided into three equal pieces vertically, the forehead, then [the bottom of the forehead to] the nose and then from the nose to the chin."

Voice pitch - women with higher estrogen levels have a higher voice which makes them more attractive to men. Therefore, when females are ovulating and estrogen levels peak, men have found that the voices are significantly more attractive.

Time of the Month - When women are at mid-cycle (meaning they are ovulating and fertile) they are more attracted to "manly men." I picture cavemen with clubs and a grunting Tim the Tool Man Taylor! When women are menstruating, they prefer softer more feminine men. This could play havoc on relationships where the man is required to be a stud muffin one week and sing sappy love songs to his girl the next.

Pheromones -  a chemical mixture in which animals secrete to convey messages to others. They can transmit messages of fear, territorial boundaries and even SEX! Researchers believe when a man gets a whiff of copulins, his testosterone levels rise. As a result, he secretes androstenone, an odor that repels women who aren't ovulating. "Bars and nightclubs across the world are the battlefield for this invisible biochemical war," Oprah says.

Hip to waist ratio - According to studies, when men first see a woman, he immediately assesses the curve of her body. If her waist to hip ratio is 0.7, he is more attracted because she represents a healthy and more fertile body for reproduction. However, not all of us have the hour glass shape and look like Marilyn Monroe so this may be a loose rule!

Now, before we look in the mirror and start picking apart our bodies because we don't have the exact measurements, please remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is a beast to one, may be a beauty to another. So smile, put your best asymmetrical face forward and ladies, hit that club on day 14-16 of your cycle!!
Happy Dating!

The Giggleberries

   We can't have a blog about the penis without talking about the giggleberries! Or as us medical professions refer to them - the testicles, testes.
Many people wonder what the purpose of these drooping parts are. Well let me tell you...they are a whole fascinating ecosystem unto themselves!
    The testes are the manufacturing facilities for sperm, without them there would be no tiny humans running around. They are an extremely important part of fertility, reproduction and therefore population growth. All hail Team Testicle.
    Some babies are born with cryptorchidism or "undescended testicle" which simply means that one testicle has not moved out of the abdominal cavity to hang in the scrotum. (Another fun term is the scrotum, which is the sac of skin that the testes live in). Usually cryptorchidism will resolve on its own or require manipulation by the doctor.

A couple of interesting facts about the testes:
1. They will rise when cold, it is best to perform a self exam after just getting out of the shower, or whenever the testicles are warm and hanging low! They will retreat towards your warm body when the external temperature is cold.
2. They can be tender - play gently.
3. They can have issues of their own independent of the penis.  
4. The left testicle usually sits higher than the right. 

Issues:
Epididymitis - inflammation of the epididymis
Testicular Cancer - a tumor within the testes
Infertility - a problem with the sperm production
Hydrocele/Varicocele -a fluid filled sac in the scrotum (sometimes with water, sometimes blood)
Testicular torsion - a twisting of the spermatic cord that can lead to a removal of the testis. (This is considered an Emergency)

Self exams: It is important to get to know this area of the body in detail so that you can identify any changes right away. If possible, assess the skin health of the scrotum, looking for any lesions or tenderness. Then roll each testicle around between your fingers, they should feel like peeled grapes. If they are tender, hot, hard, lumpy or have a significant size difference, there may be an issue.

The testicles are a great source of inappropriate humor but in all seriousness, they play a pretty important role in society. So the next time you want to joke about yours, think twice and recognize how incredibly awesome they truly are!


The Twig

      Moving right along in the fun world of body parts, I felt it was only right to discuss the health of the male sex organ.
For some women, the one-eyed snake is a complete mystery,  but for others, they just need to walk in the room and they command 'its' attention.
I'm not a guy, so I'm not an expert on what it feels like to have an appendage between my legs but lets take a moment to discuss the hazards and potential issues that could plague the PENIS!

Hazard # 1 - The Runaway Zipper
Gotta be a man's worse nightmare - jagged teeth, tender skin and excruciating pain, not to mention embarrassment. Luckily as a Naturopath, we learned techniques to dislodge the stuck skin, often with the use of scissors! Haha no not to cut off the penis, to cut around the zipper. Ouch! However, I rarely see penis injuries in my practice. I believe the next best technique is oil to make the skin and the zipper slippery and therefore easier to move.

Hazard #2 - The Hot Chick
That awkward moment when you're strolling along the sidewalk minding your own business and the hottest chick that ever walked the planet walks by in 6 inch stilettos and a short skirt. The wind catches the skirt and... UH OH you're excited. The pressure of the erection as well as the after effects of not relieving said erection can cause significant discomfort.

Ok so hazards are avoidable (for the most part) but what about problems and pathologies.

ED or erectile dysfunction - can be caused by alcohol (see post #1 The big "O '), aging, hormonal imbalance, low libido or drugs/medication. Please see your doctor if you have a concern about this.

A painful erection that won't go away - Not always due to an over-consumption of Viagra - check out other Penile disorders for more information.